Wild Goose Chase

Quarter of two.

It’s a beautiful summer afternoon, perfect for a little walk to the store. For the past couple of mornings I’ve read essays by Loren Eiseley from a book of his stuff. In all of his meditations on natural history he sees humanity as unique and self contained, and every species for him is likewise idiographic, more or less. Human beings are alone in being thinking creatures, he says; never before and never again will there be anything like us. I guess my (amateur) view is nominalistic. It’s not like nature had an essential cookie cutter for the species of humankind. Nothing mystical is involved in our emergence on the world stage, though many people will disagree with that. There are different kinds of biologists. A simply sequential evolution makes more sense to me than something with a design or purpose, maybe a great plan for human beings. I think it’s strange to believe in a nature with essences or immaterial forms. This idea goes back to the Greeks, but apparently it survives to more recent thinking about evolution. A turtle is not the same thing as a chicken, or a chicken as a fish, etc etc. Yet embryos across species appear much the same. How much did people know about genetics in the Fifties? Probably I’m reading the wrong book…


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